Top: “A Bigger Splash” by David Hockney; Bottom: A Bigger Splash, currently in theaters
There will be two “Bigger Splash” movies this year. One of them is a documentary on David Hockney, the great Los Angeles-based artist.
The movie A Bigger Splash takes on a theme I’ve seen in a few indies lately: that of vacations going south. Force Majeure, The Two Faces of January, and The Loneliest Planet are examples of this concept in recent years. Terror flicks like I Spit on Your Grave or Hostel also technically fall under this category, though we’re talking there about a very different type of film, obviously. It’s a great storytelling tool because it allows ordinary people to be placed out of their element, out of their comfort zone. Vacations allow ordinary people to face extraordinary circumstances.
Force Majeure was the best at this, in the psychological drama side of the bucket. One of the problems with A Bigger Splash is that it is not completely confident of what it is trying to be. As a psycho-sexual drama, it had me pretty well gripped for about the first three-quarters, at which point it took the inevitable turn as given away in the trailer — and suddenly became a completely different and much more mundane picture. Because of this, I was going to render a marginal thumbs-up, but the film did stick around in my head just long enough for a 7/10.
Comparison Notes: besides the films mentioned above, Swimming Pool (2003) — one of those movies I’ll have to see again to post on; La Cérémonie (highly recommended)